Tag Archives: Dove Step 2

Activism…

A singing male Turtle Dove. © Jonny Rankin

A singing male Turtle Dove. © Jonny Rankin

‘’Activism noun. The following of a policy of vigorous action in a cause.’ Seems to sum up Dove Step 2 quite nicely’. Darren Underwood, April 2015

Dove Step fellow and true gent Mr Darren Underwood made several supportive comments via Twitter during our endurance days on Dove Step 2. These comments and quotes were particularly well received when suffering on the walking leg.

Of Darren’s comments the above on Activism stuck with me. Dove Step is our reaction to the decline of Turtle Dove populations; our actions have to be vigorous as we are seeking to halt a vigorous decline. We know Dove Step alone will not cure all the issues affecting Turtle Doves, but the supporting of Operation Turtle Dove, is definitely the best way forward. Our funds, as kindly donated by you, support Operation Turtle Dove across its objectives. Last year we raised enough funds to install nine hectares of Turtle Dove habitat in the eastern region. This year, at the time of writing our 700 mile triathlon has raised £3 544.17 (£4 430.21 with Gift Aid) to support these objectives. Having liaised with Operation Turtle Dove, we will be announcing the activity that this year’s fundraising will go towards over the coming weeks.

The publication by the IUCN of The European Red List validates our efforts for Turtle Doves, previously considered to be of Least Concern. Turtle Doves are now deemed vulnerable and near threatened with extinction.

The reasons for the decline of European bird species, including Turtle Dove are identified as:

‘Biological resource use’, and ‘agriculture and aquaculture’ are Europe’s top threats to bird species, followed by ‘climate change and severe weather’, ‘pollution’, ‘invasive and other problematic species, genes and diseases’ and ‘natural system modifications’.

Turtle Doves are seemingly affected by all of the reasons for Europe wide declines:

‘… the proportion of threatened species in this assessment is comparable to that in the previous assessment a decade ago. Bird species continue to decline as a result of various threats, including illegal hunting, changing agricultural practices, invasive and alien species and habitat loss and degradation. It is evident that much more needs to be done to save threatened European bird species from extinction and to safeguard the bird populations of Europe.’

I am pleased that the Dove Step campaign and our most recent ‘700 mile triathlon’ stands as ‘activism’ to help address these issues.

Turtle Doves revised classification as ‘vulnerable and near threatened’ with extinction by the IUCN, poses a direct conflict with the EU management plan for Turtle Dove, which states:

The Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur is listed on Annex II/2 of the EU Birds Directive as a species for which hunting is permitted in the following Member States: Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Austria, and Portugal. The Turtle Dove is an important quarry species in these countries with 2-4 million birds shot annually.

I have a petition with the EU parliament, which I have tried for months to get live. It is not an easy process, the latest update as received today is:

Your petition will become available for support once it is adopted and found admissible by the Committee on Petitions. For any change in status you will be notified by e-mail.’

The submitted petition is entitled ‘Revise the EU Management Plan for the Turtle Dove’ and hopefully it will be adopted very soon allowing Dove Step supporters, who are EU residents, to sign in the near future. The revised Red List status is surely a precursor to updating the Management Plan and consequently the number of Turtle Dove allowed as quarry.

We are extremely positive in the Dove Step camp; we have now had time to reflect upon this year’s journey and will be sharing the experience via upcoming guest blogs, magazine features and talks. We will also be announcing the next Dove Step journey, Dove Step 3, within our Birdfair talk. If you are attending, do come and hear our plans at 09:30 in marquee 3 on the Saturday morning, 22nd August at Rutland Water.

Sir Robert Yaxley, veteran of both Dove Step journeys to date...

Sir Robert Yaxley, veteran of both Dove Step journeys to date…


Dove Step progress - so far...

Dove Step progress – so far…

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Dove Step 2 – day two

  

Daily distance: 13.28 miles 
Duration: 04:41:36
Cumulative distance: 25.17 miles
Weather: Overcast, sunny spells, 9 degrees, 7mph south easterlies
Sea state: 3, some rough. No capsizes. No vomiting! 
Best birds: Yellow Wagtail and Sedge Warbler. 
DOVE STEP 2 – KAYAK LEG – DONE! 
Much calmer today in terms of both the elements and the team. No constant buffeting from the wind. No capsizes. No vomiting. 
We did however have to contend with two river mouth crossings; the Deben and the Orwell. As well as this we crossed the shipping channel for Harwich and Felixstowe ports.
So although Mother Nature was kind today we wrestled with man-made peril! 
It was an honour to paddle the channel crossing equivalent distance with Kurt Finch, Stu Moore, Andrew Goodrick and Ed King
With thanks for making the first leg of our 700 mile triathlon a success. 
Now driving with Ed Waterston, cycle leg team leader, to Dover. We make the ferry crossing in the wee hours and the first days cycling is upwards of 100 miles! 
Please follow our journey via this blog, support our fundraising and wish us well! 
Onwards – for Turtle Doves

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Wild Frontier Ecology and Dove Step…

20100322 plover
The Dove Step campaign is very lucky to have the support of a select few companies: all of which we are extremely grateful to. Wild Frontier Ecology has championed the Dove Step campaign from first principles, through bolstering our fundraising total each year and by allowing its director Sir Robert Yaxley to walk hundreds of miles over days and weeks.
The Team - Wild Frontier Ecology

The Team – Wild Frontier Ecology

With just days left until we commence this years epic journey I wanted readers to hear directly from Sir Rob and on behalf of Wild Frontier Ecology:
I have surveyed birds for about 30 years both in a professional and personal capacity. During that time there have been some massive changes in my local avifauna. There have been some welcome additions, such as Common Buzzard, Little Egret and Cetti’s Warbler, but these have been more than offset by the disappearance (or nearly so) of other species – for example, Willow Tit, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Tree Sparrow and Turtle Dove. The reasons for these disappearances are often complex.  With the Turtle Dove, it is apparent that it has been hit hard by the reduced plant diversity in the countryside, the dangers of long-distance migration and probably the parasite Trichomonas gallinae.

No decline on the scale shown by turtle doves (decline by 74% across Europe since 1980) is going to be reversed by a single action. But last years’ 300 mile walk, completed by the Dove Step team, raised enough money to install 9 hectares of feeding habitat. This small amount can make a difference, but perhaps more importantly, raised awareness will help to create stronger public support for the Turtle Dove and other species threatened in our wider countryside.

Knowing this I believe it would be wrong to stand by and let Turtle Doves become extinct in the UK without a really big effort to save them. This is what has driven myself and the other Dove Step team members to a really mammoth physical effort. Also, as ecologists, it is within our professional gift to advise on impacts on threatened species, and to recommend actions towards providing for these species in the future. So on both a personal and organisational level, this is a Good Thing

And that is why Wild Frontier Ecology supports Dovestep 2.
Sir Robert Yaxley – April, 2015
Check out Wild Frontier via their website and also Facebook page. Follow our journey via this blog from this Saturday, 18th April and support our fundraising for Operation Turtle Dove via the JustGiving page.
DS2 info graphic

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Maltese Referendum – moving forward…

Here the outward show is nothing, it is the inward purpose that counts. So the ‘Gods’ dwindle and the humble supplant them. Pretence is useless.’

Captain Scott – 5 May, 1911

This quote was left, along with a donation on our JustGiving page, by West Suffolk birder and upmost gent Mr Darren Underwood. I felt emotional reading it.
Not least because of the huge affections I feel for Captain Scott and his son but also because of the strain left by the failure of the Maltese referendum on Spring hunting today.

Fingers crossed the Maltese vote 'NO' to Spring hunting.

Time is a healer and however validated the shooting lobby feel in this instance, there are many things that shall outlive the referendum: The EU for starters, Birdlife Malta for seconds and of course the Dove Step campaign.
This year is only the second of four planned journeys to leave a self propelled line from Saltholme RSPB all the way to Africa.
Dove Step gives a group of friends, dedicated to enacting change, a huge output through the planning, training, executing and promoting of each journey.
To speak for myself; I cannot imagine how I would deal with the flagrant disrespect shown by Maltese shooters if I wasn’t about to exert for Turtle Doves, for 14 days and across 700 miles.
Darren also tweeted an acute reminder as to why we are so invested in the Dove Step campaign and Operation Turtle Dove:
My local patch Turtle Dove records: a single flock of 165 birds on 12/08/1990; total count for 2014, zero #longmelford #extinct
Despite the disappointment of today’s referendum result there are glimmers of hope:
  • Malta is a microcosm of the European Union albeit a damaging one.
  • The ignorance of a proportion of the population doesn’t colour all the islanders.
  • All other EU member states have outlawed (legal) shooting of Turtle Dove in the Spring.
  • There are individuals such as Fiona Burrows on the ground, risking personal safety to protect migrant birds.
  • The referendum has raised the shooting of Turtle Dove and other migrants at international level; gaining column inches and reaction from both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps.
  • Operation Turtle Dove, inclusive of its partners, are working to support Turtle Doves across their range.
  • ‘Our’ Turtle Doves at least avoid the eastern flyway over Malta used predominantly by Balkan breeders.
  • The Dove Step team won’t stop over a referendum result, online detractors or any barrier to stabilisation of the European Turtle Dove population.
Please support our fundraising and the objectives of Operation Turtle Dove, which comprises of three parts:
  1. building on research into the Turtle Dove breeding grounds in England

  2. establishing feeding habitat over core breeding range through advisory and farmer initiatives

  3. research into factors operating during migration and at wintering areas

Last year’s fundraising equated to 9ha of installed Turtle Dove habitat in the Eastern Region. This year we hope to at least match if not better this, the more we raise the more that becomes possible!
Turtle Dove plots installed following last years fundraising.

Turtle Dove plots installed following last years fundraising.

Follow our journey via this blog from the 18th April and support our fundraising for Turtle Dove via the JustGiving page.
Jonny
DS2 info graphic

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Three weeks to go! 

In just three weeks we take to the sea to start this year’s multi discipline endurance! 700 miles of kayaking, cycling and walking to draw a self propelled line from Suffolk to Spain and across the whole of France! 

The kayak expedition is booked and we have our last training day scheduled for this coming Tuesday. A last chance to practice our recovery skills and put some paddle time in.
In advance of that, we are of course putting some miles in our legs around East Anglia this weekend. Hopefully it will be warmer than our last distinctly alpine weekend cycling in Northumberland…
 
Sir Rob is ramping up the milage too; ensuring his best stride and blister plasters are locked and loaded ready to tow us down to the Spanish border.  
 

Dove Step 2 is a go! We just need to keep healthy for these remaining weeks and hit the start in good condition.
I delivered a talk to Suffolk Ornithological Group (SOG) yesterday and with thanks to SOG members generosity the fundraising total, which had already tipped £300 mark, is due for a further boost! We’re already over 10% of the way to our target of beating last year’s fundraising.

Raising both awareness and funds for Operation Turtle Dove is our primary objective and SOG have really furthered this year’s efforts across both these functions.
Some SOG members also purchased Dove Step pin badges, the proceeds of which have also been added to the JustGiving page. If you don’t have an actual pin badge then why not add a virtual one to your social networks via a Dove Step 2 Twibbon?
 
Aside from these last few training efforts, we are chomping at the bit and mad keen to get going! Roll on 18th April…

You can re-live Dove Step 1 here; http://dovestep.wordpress.com

Be sure to check out Operation Turtle Dove here; http://operationturtledove.org 

Get Dove Step beer here; http://blackbar.co.uk

Check out Dove Step sponsor Bridgedale Socks here; http://www.bridgedale.com

Check out Dove Step sponsor Wild Frontier Ecology here; http://www.wildfrontier-ecology.co.uk

Check out Dove Step 2 partner Nomad Sea kayaking here; http://www.nomadseakayaking.co.uk

… and of course please keep checking back here for updates!

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Dove Step 2 – the kayak leg…

Enduring each day for 14 days, errant drivers, blisters, fatigue and injury are all present considerations when I look ahead to our Dove Step 2 journey.

A journey which is now only 6 weeks away!

Of our three legs (kayak, cycle and walking) we are never as exposed or vulnerable to the power of nature as when at sea.

Whilst we originally wanted to do a true channel crossing the French authorities have forbidden it, not even allowing us into their waters. As such, we have created our own channel crossing equivalent 21 nautical miles / 25 statute miles of paddling down the Suffolk coast.

This route has the advantage of taking us past North Warren, Havergate Island, Boyton and Hollesley Marshes and Stour Estuary RSPB reserves, so if you are out bird watching on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of April be sure to keep an eye out offshore.

DS2 Kayak route

Mr Kurt Finch of Nomad Sea Kayaking has trained us and also planned our expedition. Here Kurt explains the potential issues of our two days at sea…

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I wanted to highlight the potential challenges we may experience;
1. We will be paddling in all conditions thrown at us; up to and including Force 7 (28-33 knot) wind combined with the currents on the day could result in choppy to large conditions in deep water.
 
2. We will probably have to paddle against the tide for some sections, losing 1-1.5 knots of speed over the bottom.
 
3. We will have to make a crossing of some fast moving water and an overfall at the mouth of the River Ore, possibly resulting in multiple capsizes and exposure to very cold, fast moving water (make sure you review and practice your assisted recovery skills). Any capsizes may need to be conducted in not only cold and fast moving water but also in the path of oncoming leisure vessels entering or exiting the River Ore.
4. Again, the mouth of the Deben River is well known for its ever shifting sand banks, fast moving water and rough conditions. The same risks are prevalent here but with far more leisure traffic heading in both directions.
5. The final challenge is crossing the deep water channel at the entrance to Harwich harbour, one of the busiest commercial trading ports in the country. We will have to gain permission from Harwich VTS to cross in between entering and exiting commercial container vessels; amongst the largest in the world and sailing at 6-8 knots to maintain steerage. They wont stop for us!
And finally, do not underestimate the impact of slow onset fatigue, hypothermia and injury whilst attempting to maintain a constant speed over the bottom over an extended paddle of approximately six straight hours a day, all whilst dealing with potential swell, wind and current and challenging steep beach landings in surf.  This will be two days of head down, teeth grit, ‘suck it up’ and crack on!!
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This leaves me to ask; what would you do for a species you love and know is in free fall decline?
We know in the UK Turtle Doves have declined 96% from 1970 – 2012. We also know that Europe wide they have similarly crashed with a 74% decline since 1980.
This year’s journey is in equal measure intimidating and exciting. But it has to be – it is our response to those figures – 96% and 74% which are not palatable.
Big challenges need big responses. Our Dove Step campaign in support of Operation Turtle Dove is one of those responses and we cannot wait to get going!
DS2 info graphic

You can re-live Dove Step 1 here; http://dovestep.wordpress.com

Be sure to check out Operation Turtle Dove here; http://operationturtledove.org 

Buy your Dove Step beer here; http://blackbar.co.uk

Check out Dove Step sponsor Bridgedale Socks here; http://www.bridgedale.com

Check out Dove Step sponsor Wild Frontier Ecology here; http://www.wildfrontier-ecology.co.uk

Check out Dove Step partner Nomad Sea kayaking here; http://www.nomadseakayaking.co.uk

… and of course please keep checking back here for updates!

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Dove Step 2 – Your questions answered!

There has been a lot of interest and a few questions come in via the social networks over the last few days. So I will try and answer them all here! 
  • Firstly, you can support our efforts via the JustGiving page here; https://www.justgiving.com/DoveStep2 all funds go directly to the RSPB for use by Operation Turtle Dove.
  • Last year we raised £3000 which Operation Turtle Dove used for Turtle Dove friendly habitat creation in the East of England.
  • If you are not able to support our fundraising efforts this year then please add a Dove Step Twibbon to your Twitter and Facebook profiles; http://twibbon.com/support/dove-step Sharing is caring!
  • Our journey will commence on the 18th April with two days of kayaking – covering 21 nautical miles / 25 miles – the equivalent of a channel crossing.
  • We will then start cycling from Calais on the morning of 20th April covering 90 miles a day for six days to arrive in Bordeaux on 25th April.
  • Our final leg is a further six days of walking 25 miles a day taking us to the Spanish border.
  • Our overall aim with the Dove Step campaign is to raise both funds and awareness for Operation Turtle Dove.
  • Over the course of four journeys (this year is our second) we wish to create a self propelled line from Saltholme RSPB reserve in the north east of England all the way to Africa. Mimicking the migratory route of Turtle Doves.
We also have some good Turtle Dove news to report! New RSPB research (part funded by Operation Turtle Dove partner Natural England) has proven the benefits of habitat creation for Turtle Doves and also how they could be administered via the agri-enviormental schemes. This is gratifying as our fundraising to date equated to 9 hectares of installed Turtle Dove habitat. Knowing that this on-the-ground change is best placed to help Turtle Doves is good impetus to keep on enduring!
Turtle Dove plots installed following last years fundraising.

Turtle Dove plots installed following last years fundraising.

I would also like to take the chance to thank a couple of people whom have made this years Dove Step journey eminently more achievable and affordable; Mr Sven Wair and Mr Edward Waterston.
Sven Wair already keeps a watchful eye over proceedings and coordinates with our next of kin and the press whilst we are on the road. Added to this invaluable work he will be driving a support vehicle whilst we walk from Bordeaux to the Spanish border. This vehicle will allow us to stow food, water and our tents whilst we walk during the day massively relieving the stress upon, what will be by then, fatigued bodies. Aside from the functional benefits of a support vehicle I can think of any one I would rather see at the end of each day and share this years Dove Step journey with.
Ed Waterston is our cycle leg team leader this year. In addition to cycling 540 miles he is also going beyond to ensure our bikes are transported back to the UK without issue. This leaves us to concentrate 100% on walking each day without the bind of having to store and package our bikes then get them home ourselves.
These selfless acts will vastly increase the likelihood of our completing this years journey and also make the endurance much more comfortable.
Sven, Ed, thank you.
DS2 info graphic

You can re-live Dove Step 1 here; http://dovestep.wordpress.com

Be sure to check out Operation Turtle Dove here; http://operationturtledove.org 

Buy your Dove Step beer here; http://blackbar.co.uk

Check out Dove Step sponsor Bridgedale Socks here; http://www.bridgedale.com

Check out Dove Step sponsor Wild Frontier Ecology here; http://www.wildfrontier-ecology.co.uk

Check out Dove Step partner Nomad Sea kayaking here; http://www.nomadseakayaking.co.uk

… and of course please keep checking back here for updates!

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